Impressions from playing Frostpunk 2

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When the strategy game Frostpunk from Polish studio 11 bit was released in 2018, it quickly became a huge hit. It was able to combine a unique new ice age setting from the late alternate 19th century, complex but mechanically simple strategy, survival elements, a very strong atmosphere and story, great music and uncompromising difficulty. It was such a tempting mix that we saw several expansions and the developers began working on a full-fledged sequel. Its full release won’t happen until July, but players who pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition have already been able to try out the beta, which includes a sandbox mode (so limited in the beta, but still quite extensive). I tried it myself and can share my first impressions with you.

Played on the following PC build:

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  • CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K
  • FRAME: 32 GB DDR5 6000 MT/s
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 (16 GB VRAM)
  • Storage: Solidigm P44 Pro (NVMe PCIe 4.0 2TB SSD)

And how it went on

Frostpunk 2 takes place 30 years after the events of the first part. The ice storm has passed and the weather is a little calmer, although still unpredictable at times. You are no longer seen as a captain with absolute power, but as a city manager who will take care of the proper running of the city, but must take into account the opinions of the residents. The greatest danger to the city will be the people themselves, given their different opinions on fundamental issues.

It’s worth saying right away that Frostpunk 2 plays significantly differently than the first, and this is the main reason why reviews of the beta version are somewhat mixed. The developers talked about this from the very beginning, but even I was a little surprised by the speed of the drift at the end. I would compare it to Darkest Dungoen 2, for example: the setting and aesthetics are the same, but the gameplay is very different. I was still excited about the game, but many people may be disappointed by this news. It has evolved from an accessible survival strategy to a much more complex issue, with a focus on politics and economics.

Basically, there’s more in the sequel. Time is measured not in hours and minutes but in days and weeks, you build mostly urban areas instead of individual buildings, and storing as many resources as possible is replaced by a somewhat flexible economy based on supply and demand. However, the biggest changes have occurred at the social level, and that is where I would like to focus first.

Political chess

In the end, politics was what I was most looking forward to in Frostpunk 2, and the result arguably exceeded my expectations. People are divided into two factions, here these are specifically Foragers, who want to adapt as much as possible to new conditions, and Machinists, who want the maximum possible technical progress. By the way, this is not the only combination; there will be more factions in the full game.

The first two groups can still be dealt with, but it gets worse once they start to radicalize. Gradually, two completely different currents are formed: the Technocrats, who promote progress, equality and emphasize reason, and a faction called Icebloods, which, on the contrary, promotes adaptation to conditions, desires the greatest possible profit and emphasizes tradition. It is almost impossible to please both camps due to such sharp differences, but you have to try, otherwise you risk strikes and protests that could disrupt the work of key districts. In addition, deteriorating relations with factions leads to a decrease in trust, and if it drops too low, it can lead to your complete expulsion from the city.Impressions from the game Frostpunk 2 20240415230502 1

But you can benefit the factions by providing them with heat marks (a universal rule that will be needed for almost everything), taking on obligations, for example, to destroy the building of the “enemy” group or research some technology with their ideas. This is where the two most interesting parts of the policy come into play. The first concerns the technology tree, which may seem apolitical from the name, but there is practically no such thing as universal technology in this game. Each idea takes several different forms, depending on the faction. For example, Gatherers allow you to explore buildings, which typically produce more material but require more workers and are dangerous in terms of disease. Machinists, in turn, will offer you buildings with fewer personnel or requirements, but often also production and with the fact that they also pollute the air.

The second part is really purely political, this is the city council, where the elected representatives of the people meet, who thus come from the factions already mentioned. If in the first part you decided on all the laws, then here you have to let the representatives vote on quite key things: how foreigners will be treated, what will happen to small children, what kind of life insurance people will have, and much more.

Consensus is usually very small, so most laws are passed with only a narrow majority (a minimum of 51 out of 100 votes is required). If you really need legislation passed and don’t want to leave anything to chance (radical factions tend to have strong opinions, but not others), you can negotiate with the groups and offer them something in exchange for the vote you want.Impressions from the game Frostpunk 2 20240416163321 1

Representatives can also be pressured and essentially forced to vote a certain way, but this will of course reduce people’s trust in you. But there will probably be some possibility of absolute power, because in the currently locked part of the law tree, which will only be in the full version, there were options such as propaganda, martial law, secret police, state of emergency, the ability to veto laws or even create an administrator’s personal militia. Honestly, I’m very curious to see what it would look like if you went this route.

Other strengths

Moreover, the economy, at least for the most part, performed very well. Maintaining a balance between supply and demand is a difficult but not impossible task. The key role is played by the building, which is more reminiscent of, for example, the SimCity series than the first Frostpunk. You have to deftly work with the bonuses of neighboring areas, gradually expand them and build special buildings. Raw materials cannot be stored very well, so it is important to maintain a stable supply, especially of coal, which the generator depends on.Impressions from the game Frostpunk 2 20240416152703 1

The survival elements have receded a little compared to the first part, but they are certainly not absent. You must ensure that the inhabitants are not cold, they are not hungry, the air is not too polluted and diseases do not spread too much. At least the last two aspects often increase the number of buildings, so this needs to be balanced by building purification towers and hospitals.

By the way, there is also exploration of surrounding locations, where you will find out what happened to the landscape, you will be able to extract raw materials once, or even build a station for stable supplies. The system here is a little more complex than the first, but I think it lacks a little atmosphere, and that can be said about the entire game so far.

Unexpected flaws

This will probably be greatly influenced by the fact that I could only try the sandbox and Frostpunk’s strength has always been the story, which was completely absent here, whereas the full game will of course have a story mode. Despite this, I can’t help but feel that the atmosphere wasn’t as strong as I might have imagined. The music is again great, but it feels like the game is missing a number of the sounds we’ve come to associate with Frostpunk. Likewise, human voices are almost completely absent, although we heard them in an earlier trailer, so hopefully we’ll see them in the full version.

Otherwise, I had some minor balance issues, mainly regarding the universal currency, which can run out very quickly and without it you are completely overwhelmed. Likewise, in my opinion, some technologies were not entirely balanced, where the Forager faction usually had much better ones, although I did not agree with them at all.Impressions from the game Frostpunk 2 20240415235121 1

The biggest problem I see, and probably more people would agree, is in the UI anyway. The text is often too small, some of the windows aren’t very clear (for example, I didn’t realize until about an hour into the game that the tech tree was made up of multiple parts), and the white interface on white snow just isn’t quite ideal. I would really appreciate an option with a dark background.

In conclusion, I would like to add some information regarding the technical side. The game runs on Unreal Engine 5 and looks very nice from a visual standpoint, especially when it comes to the various effects, but it took its toll. To run the game at a stable 60 FPS at 4K on the RTX 4080, I had to lower the graphics settings to High and scale to Balanced. I wouldn’t have such a problem with this, but unfortunately the beta version only offers FSR, which creates flickering in motion, and TSR, which in turn has significantly lower performance. Luckily, the developers have confirmed that DLSS and XeSS will not be missing from the full version. However, the frame rate was maintained, and although there was typical Unreal Engine stuttering, it was nothing terrible. After all, it doesn’t even play a big role in strategy.

bold continuation

Overall I have a very positive impression of Frostpunk 2. The game is even more different from the first game than I expected, but that’s not a bad thing at all, the news is very imaginative and fun, especially the political aspect. But it won’t be for everyone, so it’s no surprise that many number one fans are disappointed with the beta. In short, this is no longer an accessible strategy, but something much more complex. However, the world and aesthetics are not lost, and I’m really looking forward to returning to the frosty world again in July, this time in the full version.

Frostpunk 2 will be released on July 25, currently only on PC, with versions for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S coming later. The game will be available on Game Pass from the day of release.

Source :Indian TV

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